View Full Version : 2008: CDs, Concerts, and A Clusterfuck of Music in General!

12-08-2008, 11:40 AM
Top 10 Albums of 2008:
1.Royal Hunt - Collision Course
Best tracks: The First Rock, Exit Wound, The Clan
For years now Andre Andersson and Royal Hunt have been releasing their very own brand of music which can best be described as: "Neoclassical Progressive Power-Pop Metal", and I honestly believe that this may be one of their very best works. New vocalist Mark Boals couldn't have been a better fit for this band and album, and the whole thing kicks ass from start to finish, very much in the vein of the original Paradox album.
2.Pyramaze - Immortal
Best tracks: Year of the Pheonix, Caramon's Poem
Matt Barlow's glorious return to metal, not that bland new Iced Earth album. From the epic intro of "Arise" to the massively epic outro of "March Through and Endless Rain", this is one helluva tour de force in Progressive Power Metal, with a really nice symphonic touch. Very well done, and I still listen to it regularly, half a year since release.
3.Firewind - The Premonition
Best Tracks: Remembered, Mercenary Man, Angels Forgive Me
Firewind's last album, Allegiance was a defining moment of 2006 for me, and I'm happy to say that this album followed it up in a similarly great vein. This record is more straight forward, as evidenced by the opening cut, "Into the Fire". This album is perfect proof as to why Firewind are one of the best bands in modern metal today.
4.Avantasia - The Scarecrow
Tobias Sammet outdid his own band this year. Despite the "Story" here being as arcaic as you could possibly imagine, this album features a slew of notorious guests, primarily in the vein of one fantastic-sounding Jorn Lande. This album is proof that Tobi doesn't have to be doing power metal to be great, he just has to be in top form with whatever he chooses to do, which here was crafting epic yet catchy melodic metal tunes.
Best Tracks: The Scarecrow, Devil in the Belfry, I Don't Believe In Your Love
5.Theocracy - Mirror of Souls
Theocracy began as a one-man-band consisting of the amazing talent of Matt Smith who on this new record is merely sings, plays guitar, keyboards, I believe bass, and produced and wrote the whole album. This doesn't make this album any less impressive. The lyrics in places here are bordering on too Christian for my tastes, but the music is absolutely stunning and the delivery is top notch. This was an extremely pleasant surprise for the last minute of the year.
Best tracks: A Tower of Ashes, Mirror of Souls
6.Serenity - Fallen Sanctuary
Best Tracks: All Lights Reversed, Rust of Coming Ages, The Heartblood Symphony
This band is totally new to me, and I think they will be making quite a name for themselves in the coming years if they keep releasing albums like this one. This is a really enjoyable collection of great symphonic/melodic metal, seemingly most influenced by Kamelot, with a singer who is oddly reminiscent of Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica. Well done sirs, well done.
7.Hibria - The Skull Collectors
Hibria's debut album was an absolutely astounding tour de force in power/speed metal and the follow up is no less impressive. The band takes a more mature route here, focussing more on songwriting than flashy musicianship. These songs are great and this is a really enjoyable album to listen to full of fantastic playing and great hooks.
Best tracks: Sea of Revenge, Reborn From the Ashes, Wings of Wax
8.Edguy - Tinnitus Sanctus
Best Tracks: Speedhoven, Ministry of Saints
This is hardly the power metal return to form Edguy fans may have been hoping for, but I feel this is a more mature, refined version of what the band was trying for on "Rocket Ride", with a few surprisingly power metal moments. The band tried a bit of everything here - power metal, melodic hard rock, power ballads, rockin' fun tunes, it's all here, for better or worse. Bottom line with this one is that I simply just really enjoy listening to it.
7.Circle II Circle - Delusions of Grandeur
Best Tracks: Waiting, Echoes, Every Last Thing
Circle II Circle's last album, "Burden of Truth" is one of my 10 favorite albums of all time, and sadly this album isn't in the same league as that one. However these songs are pretty damn good and the band is definitely trying some new things here. Most importantly, Zak Stevens sounds absolutely fantastic as always.
8.Evergrey - Torn
Best Tracks: Torn, Fail, When Kingdoms Fall
This album was a very pleasant surprise, following Evergrey's extremely dissapointing "Monday Morning Apocalypse". The band has brought back some of the great traits found on albums such as "Recreation Day", and the songs and presentation are just simply much better. These songs are strong, and reminded me why I like older Evergrey so much, and for that, I must give it due credit.
9.Jorn - Lonely are the Brave
Best Tracks: Lonely are the Brave, Shadow People, Promises
Jorn is a bit of an interesting figure. He participates in a lot of progressive and power metal projects, but seems to be at his happiest when he's basically making generic 80s rock/metal, best described as Dio-meets-Whtesnake. As much as I want to bitch about that, it's a really enjoyable album full of good catchy tunes, massively aided by Jorn's fantastic voice and Pagans Mind guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad's great playing.
10.Brainstorm - Downburst
Best Tracks: Surrounding Walls, Redemption in Your Eyes
Redemption have kind of been flying the flag for average traditional/power metal for years, and this album shows a bit of a departure from that both in style and quality. I feel this is probably their best work to date, and a lot of these songs explore new territory not heard on previous albums, such as the use of orchestral elements. Every song is really enjoyable, and it's just a flat out good album which I can't register a complaint about.

I'll be posting my top 10 Concerts Shortly

12-08-2008, 11:51 AM
Top 10 Shows:
NOTE: I only included support bands if I liked them.

Iron Maiden 6/17/08
@ Susquehanna Bank Arts Centre - Camden, NJ
Goodies: Adrian Smith Guitar Pick
Arrived at the venue at 10am, much to the surprise of venue staff who weren't anticipating anyone for hours. However it all payed off when I got to see Maiden from the rail, directly in front of my hero, Adrian Smith! This show was a perfect 10 in every aspect. The performance was absolutely incredible, the audience was surprisingly good, and just being able to interact with my favorite band was fantastic. No question, the best show I have ever seen, and I walked away with an Adrian Smith guitar pick!

Circle II Circle / Jon Oliva's Pain - 10/8/08
@ The Sterling Hotel - Allentown, PA
Support: Manticora, Necromance
Goodies: Chris Kinder Drumstick
Met All Bands
Originally planned on travelling 1,100 miles to see this tour, and wound up playing about 10 minutes from my house, with my band opening for them. Odd how things work out. Couldn't have gone better, the bands and crew really embraced the band and made friends with us, and the CIIC and JOP sets were fantastic. I cried without restraint during Believe, making it the single greatest single-song performance I've ever seen. Jon Oliva is a god amongst men in terms of delivery and connection, I just can't say enough. Fortunately this night going so well led to me being able to attend Night #2 which was 21+.

Circle II Circle / Jon Oliva's Pain - 10/9/08
@ The Haunt - Yonkers, NY
Support: Manticora, Lost Legacy
Goodies: John Zahner Set List, Tom Drennan Drumstick
Met All Bands
The second show was just about as good as the first, in some aspects better. Circle II Circle sounded a lot better and tighter in New York, as well as playing "Turns to Me". Chris Caffery did a guest appearance with Jon Oliva's Pain for two songs, including "Edge of Thorns", leading to 3 members of Savatage performing one of my favorite songs of all-time together. After the show we got to go into the backstage area and hang out with all the bands, and eventually wound up at a diner with Manticora at 3:30 am. I got home at 6am from this show, the sun was coming up.

Symphony X - 11/20/08
@ Mulcahy's - Wantagh, NY
Support: Lazarus
Goodies: Jason Rullo Drumstick, Mike Romeo Guitar Pick
I've seen Symphony X four times, and this was easily the best of the four. The venue of Mulcahy's gave a more intimate performance and the changes in the set list made for a really great and exciting show. Not to mention that for once in my history of attending concerts, I was able to see a support band who were great. We travelled twice as far to see this show as we would have for Philly 2 nights later, but we actually saved almost $100 by making this call. Symphony X are definitely one of the best live bands out there both in terms of performance and interraction.

WASP - 2/22/08
@ The Starland Ballroom - Sayreville, NJ
Notes: Crimson Idol 15th Anniversary Tour
Support: Fatal Smile
Goodies: Mike Duda Bass Pick
All that should really be said here is that this was one of the select US shows where WASP performed "The Crimson Idol" (one of my all-time favorite albums) in its entirity. The show had amazing written all over it from the day it was announced, and it certainly delivered, making the 2 hour journey through the snow worth it.

Iron Maiden - 3/14/08
@ Izod Arena - East Rutherford, NJ
Got the venue around 11am and waited for 8 glorious hours and met a ton of awesome people who came to the show from all over the country. Unfortunately that stupid fanclub early entrance thing was in play, so we wound up like 3-4 rows of GA back. It was still a fantastic show, a really amazing performance and only a preview of what would be coming in June.

Symphony X - 4/6/08
@ The Trocadero - Philadelphia, PA
Goodies: Set List
Met Mike Lepond
Second best time I've seen Symphony X. Unfortunately the crowd was a big bother and there were a bunch of shitty opening bands as usual. Still the greatness of Russell Allen and Mike Romeo shone through to make for a really great and enjoyable show.

Tesla - 10/22/08
@ Crocodile Rock - Allentown, PA
Goodies: Frank Hannon Guitar Pick, Dave Rude Guitar Pick
I've seen Tesla six times now, and they have yet to dissapoint. This wasn't the best of the times I've seen them, but it wasn't near the bottom either. Nice to hear some of the brand new songs live and as usual they put on a really entertaining show. It's frightening that the band actually knows who my sister and I are because we've seen them front row so many times.

Iced Earth - 9/24/08
@ The Trocadero - Philadelphia, PA
Well after being a fan for about 5 years, I finally got to see Iced Earth. It could've been better but it could've been worse. Seeing Matt Barlow back was fantastic, but unfortunately the sound that night was rediculously loud and bad so you could barely hear the vocals. I actually kind of like the set list for a few reasons, mainly the the 2/3 of Gettysburg. The crowd was far less intense than I would've imagined, which is good because it allowed me to enjoy the show in peace. My ears rang for a day and a half after this show.

Chris Caffery - 9/20/08
@ Flushing Public Library - Queens, NY
Notes: Acoustic Show featuring Solo and Savatage Material
Goodies: Chris Caffery Guitar Pick
Met Chris Caffery
Yes, I saw a concert in a Public Library. Chris Caffery did a show in an auditorium at the Flushing Queens Public Library, which was advertised as an "Acoustic" show, but really was more like just "watered down" versions of songs. He played electric guitar a lot, but the drummer used brushes and they kept it toned down. He took requests from the audience and played a really great set consisting of Savatage and his best solo material. A really great and unique show.

12-08-2008, 11:54 AM
I see you got into some progressive and power metal this year. Nice to see a change of pace.

12-08-2008, 11:56 AM
I see you got into some progressive and power metal this year. Nice to see a change of pace.

You do realize I've been into Progressive Power Metal for years and there were albums from said subgenre in my 2007 and 2006 lists?

12-08-2008, 12:03 PM
You do realize I've been into Progressive Power Metal for years and there were albums from said subgenre in my 2007 and 2006 lists?

Yes, I realize that. Do you realize that every album on your top 10 list is progressive power metal?

And you do realize I was being sarcastic, right?

12-08-2008, 12:04 PM
Yes, I realize that. Do you realize that every album on your top 10 list is progressive power metal?

And you do realize I was being sarcastic, right?

No, I just thought you were being forgetful/stupid. My apologies on that assumption, but harr harr harr original joke.

12-08-2008, 12:05 PM
No, I just thought you were being forgetful/stupid. My apologies on that assumption, but harr harr harr original joke.

Originality breeds originality.

12-17-2008, 11:15 AM
I'm redoing this list. I felt it was a safe call to post it a week and a half ago. I was proven quite wrong. You can expect CDs 9 and 10 from this list to dissapear in favor of other albums, not quite sure where they'll be going though.